By Dr Kimemia Joseph, Senior Researcher, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO)
Coffee is one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the producing countries in the African continent accounting for approximately 11% of the world’s total production (Fig 1) and roughly $2 billion in annual revenues.
There over 25 African countries producing both arabica and robusta coffee. In fact Africa is the center of origin for both arabica and robusta coffee species. There is therefore a huge untapped genetic potential for development of new varieties to suit various biotic and abiotic issues.
Over the past 20 years coffee production in Africa has been relatively stagnant or declining. This poses a problem even to roasters dependent on African coffees. They may shift to other origins with the possibility of not including the African coffees in their blend. This decline could be attributed to the fact that over 50% of the coffee trees in Africa are over 50 years old, most of the varieties used by producers are not disease resistant, poor soil fertility management, little work been done on development of high performing coffee varieties and there is inadequate human resource capacity in breeding and seedling multiplication.
To read more please visit Page 32 to 33 of our July – September 2017 Magazine Issue.